Diagnosing Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,724
    Laurie Owen of Home Instead Senior Care explains how Alzheimer’s and other dementias are diagnosed.

    Laurie Owen: Hi! I'm Laurie Owen from Home Instead Senior Care. In this video, myself and Dr. Jane Potter from the University of Nebraska Medical Center will discuss how Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are diagnosed.

    There are a wide range of healthcare professionals including psychologists, social workers, neurologists, geriatricians, or your internist, or a family doctor who can diagnose Alzheimer's disease or other dementias.

    Dr. Jane F. Potter: Whichever medical professional you choose to see, he or she will likely begin with the medical history. By asking a series of questions your medical professional can establish if there are problems with what are called the instrumental activities of daily living such as keeping up with bill-paying, cooking, or cleaning.

    The medical history will also determine the approximate time of onset of the disease, how symptoms have changed overtime, and potential contributing factors such as family history, history of substance abuse, head injury, stroke, seizure, or medications. This history is the single most important part of the evaluation.

    This evaluation will also help determine if symptoms are caused or made worse by readable conditions such as depression, medication side effects, thyroid problems, excessive use of alcohol, or certain vitamin deficiencies. Your doctor may order a brain scan to look for stroke, tumor, or other conditions that maybe causing some of the symptoms.

    Laurie Owen: There are also paper and pencil tests of memory and thinking that are called neuropsychological testing. These evaluations sample various brain functions including orientation, short-term memory, ability to follow instructions, and recognition of objects.

    This type of testing may provide clues to the cause of dementia and are an important part of the evaluation. If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, a visit to the doctor is your best bet.